Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada is located about 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas off of Interstate 15. The sign is located along the interstate on the way to or from Zion National Park in Utah. The sign definitely caught our attention and peaked our interest, so we decided to take a detour on our road trip return from Zion.

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Getting There

It is a Nevada State Park, and there are two ways to get to the park. Approximately 16 miles south of Overton, Nevada; a small unincorporated town located at the north end of Lake Mead, this park is a true geological wonder. The fiery looking red sandstone cliffs were formed as a result of shifting sand dunes during the dinosaur age. The earth moving, uplifting and erosion has now created this present landscape. DIRECTIONS.

Park Info

Hours
Open daily from sunrise to sunset. 24-hour access to campgrounds.
Entrance Fees (see all park fees) $10.00
Contact 702-397-2088
vofsp@parks.nv.gov
P.O. Box 515 
Overton, NV 89040

Highlights

Unexpected Adventure

I love it when a trip includes unexpected adventures. This park is definitely unique and a hidden gem. The day of our visit, it was a warm and beautiful day as we were returning from an adventure in Zion National Park. A great place to end our weekend road trip. We arrived at the park using the east entrance.

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Take a look at some of these interesting and beautiful sandstone rock formations as well as the stories behind them.

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Mouse’s Tank:

This area is named after an outlaw who used this area as a hideout during the 1890s. This area is a natural basin and can hold rain water collections for many months.

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Mouse’s Tank

As you wander on the hiking trail that leads you to Mouse’s Tank, you will find large boulder/rock areas that have prehistoric petroglyphs. The prehistoric wanderers include the Pueblo peoples, many years ago. Their approximate span of occupation dates from 300 BC to 1150 AD.

Seven Sisters area:

Several beautiful rock formations easily seen from the road as you journey through the valley.

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Other cool rock formation areas to explore and visit in the park in these must see stops:

Beehives:

Amazing sandstone formations with geological layers or beds that are engraved in the rock representing the angles of wind and water over a period of time.

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Valley-of-Fire-State-Park

Arch Rock areas

Over millions of years, the build up materials of sediment and sandstone formed. Over time, the erosion from wind and water weakened the rock sand and the arch is what remains. This point of interest is a very fragile structure and no climbing is allowed.

Arch Rock Valley of Fire

Fire Wave

The Fire Wave trail is a highlight of the Valley of the Fire and one of the easiest hiking trails in the park. The trail is a 1.5 mile round trip lightly trafficked pathway that features a lovely landscape with beautiful wild flowers and rock formation patterns and views.

The Wave at Valley of Fire

More Points Of Interest

  • Petrified Logs
  • Rainbow Vista

White Domes

The Valley of Fire State Park also allows camping at first come first serve. There are two campgrounds and a combined total of 72 units. There are also RV Camping sites as well.

Rock climbing is allowed but is limited to designated areas within the park.

Finally

Road trips are amazing. They allow you the freedom to be flexible and free to thoroughly enjoy adventure. Many of you may think that detours can be a drag and delay your trip. Well, I will tell you that some of my detours have been the most rewarding part of the trip. If you travel to the Las Vegas or Utah area, I recommend a detour to the Valley of Fire! Thank you for reading! Disclaimer: Some photos are from Pixabay.com; all other photos belong to original owner.

The excitement of moving to a new community can be both overwhelming and exciting! However, there are also other emotions that accompany a big move, especially when its to an area that is hurricane prone or an active weather place. Which leads me to where I begin to share with you how I survived 4 hurricanes in a 5 year span.

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The Move

Making a local move is one thing, but packing a moving truck and driving across the country from California to Florida on your own is another. Hard to believe we’ve done this move twice now. We went from calm quiet days and evenings in California, to thunderstorms and rain everyday and possible hits of hurricanes flying by for 6 months of the year! I was indeed a little nervous! At the same time, I am also excited as well to live in tropical Florida!

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The Hurricanes

Our first move, we spent approximately two years living near the Tampa area. These are the years when Florida experienced hits by several hurricanes. It seems as though a hurricane was coming our way every other weekend. The internal stress that is associated with these storms is indescribable. We would embrace, hold our breath, and be prepared to be uncomfortable and expecting damage to the house or property. Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jean made their visit during this year.

Our First Home

It was 2004, approximately a month; mid August, after we arrived into our new Florida home, we focused on getting the house up to par and settled in. When suddenly, those thrilling happy feelings would be swooped away by the warnings of the first of 4 hurricanes to visit and impact our new home state during the year of 2004.

Hurricane Charley

Hurricane Charley made its direct hit just south of us in Punta Gorda, Florida at its maximum strength as a Category 4 hurricane. Charley brought massive destruction through this area as well as central parts of the state and to some northeastern states also. We receive approximately 8.5 inches of rain in less than 12 hours as I recall. Our property is not located in a zone ordered to evacuate, so we hunker down and ride out the storm. We have no power approximately 3 days, whereas other areas have no power for several weeks. We are thankful we made it through unscathed and safe. Read more info on Hurricane Charley here:

Hurricane Jeanne

The second hurricane we had the unlucky privilege of experiencing is hurricane Jeanne, the deadliest storm of 2004. We are visiting relatives in North Carolina and considering when we should return home to Florida at this time. Jeanne is making its way towards east and central Florida. Also including a path that would take it through the East part of the state and up the north east.

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Driving Through A Hurricane

With the understanding that hurricane Jeanne is moving north, we thought we might get a head of it. We decide to head back home to Florida. Well, we end up finding ourselves smack dab in the middle of the storm as we approach northeastern Florida towards Orlando, and wind up driving through a major hurricane!

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Jeanne is the fourth major named storm of the season to hit Florida in 2004. My husband did all the driving, and his intense grip on the steering wheel says it all. I think I saw imprints on the wheel by the time we arrived home. Finally, now at home safe and sound, we arrive to a community with downed huge oak trees, power lines, and much more damage. There is no damage to our property.

The Move #2

Fast forward about ten years, having moved back to California we decided once again to move back to Florida in 2014. This time to a new area about an hour south of Tampa. I am happy to learn this area has not been hit by a hurricane in nearly 20+ years or any if ever had hit this particular area in Manatee County.

Enjoying Life

Life is going great at this point and we are enjoying our home, our swimming pool, golfing, and the beautiful nature that surrounds us.

Hurricane Hermine

Well, I guess nature said it was time to throw in a little interesting drama. Hurricane Hermine makes its visit in September of 2016. Hermine makes landfall as a Cat 1 in the Florida Panhandle and we do feel some of the outer band effects from it. Again, we are lucky and dodged the bullet this year, but we would not be so lucky during the year we made plans for another change in 2017.

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Life Changing Event

After a life-changing event, we make the decision to travel more and have goals of visiting the national parks, and other gorgeous places in the US. As well, we decide to move back to California because of an opportunity we couldn’t refuse at the time. So, we put our house up for sale and shortly began packing up the house. All the while watching Hurricane Harvey destroy Houston, and learning about the next lurking storm festering up right behind it, named Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma

With only about a month to plan, pack, and prepare for a cross-country move (again), we learn quickly that we not only have little time to plan a move, but also preparing for a possible major hurricane as well. Watching carefully, being told this storm could be a direct hit, and its path would slowly crawl north throughout the entire state of Florida! Feeling as though we are in a bad dream, that internal stress has returned. We feel trapped, as we know the option to evacuate is off the table, because our home is in escrow at this time, and feel we need to stay.

Preparing For Home Inspection

We return home from a well deserved short vacation, of which we receive the offer on our house during this time. We immediately got to work cleaning up the property doing the normal trimming, lawn cutting, and sweeping the pool, with the home inspection scheduled for the next day upon return of our trip. Irma is about a week away, and we have about 3 weeks until closing. Wouldn’t you know it, the pool pump died the day of the inspection and we inform the inspector and the home buyers that we’ll take care of it. We order a pool pump out of Miami, the same path of Irma. Days pass and still no pump.

Hurricane and Closing Escrow

Hurricane Irma is more powerful than ever and picking up steam and heading for Florida, and with only 10 days until closing, I found myself running around to find available food (and specific food-Gluten, dairy, peanut Free) on the shelves at the grocery stores and Wal-Mart to only find many items were sold out and several empty shelves remained. I was able to get some items we needed but off name brands and higher prices.

Therefore, instead of packing for a move, we find ourselves gathering food, shoveling sand bags, and installing hurricane shutters on the windows. Which in itself is an exhausting task.

Hurricane Irma finally made landfall into Naples, FL and was projected to move directly in our path in Manatee County. It ended up a category 2 by the time it hit us with about 100 mile / hour winds of which I heard every one of them all night long. Sounding like a freight train was flying by our house all through the night.

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Of course, my hubby is snoring and sawing logs all night long while I toss and turn. Finally, morning arrives and we awake to only one small tree toppled over and no other damage. Wow, we were so surprised and felt as though our home and pool birdcage (they call this the pool cage) were built pretty darn good.

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Screened Pool Cage.  FITLIFEANDTRAVEL.COM

The new pool pump finally arrives from Miami two days after the hurricane. We proceed to repair the pool, finished cleaning the house for move out inspection and are ready to hit the road. We end up packing everything we owned and rolling out of town right on time as scheduled. Now, read about how we prepared and planned to ride out these hurricanes with little damage and unscathed.

Preparing for a hurricane can be challenging and difficult if you allow it to be. Plan ahead and prepare. Here is a list of things I do to prepare for hurricanes if riding out the storm (without a generator); I start checking off this list several days or a week or prior to a storm arriving; (to prevent long lines at gas station and empty food shelves). Also, mentally prepare to be without power for long length of time: NOTE: The national media tend to be over dramatic which help cause even more panic and over reaction. We watch the local news for more accurate and toned down reporting on upcoming storms.

How I Survived Hurricanes

  1. Full tank of gas
  2. Have 1-2 gallons of water for each person in home. Fill the bathtub with water.
  3. Pick up extra light/lamps (or candles) used for camping
  4. Have extra batteries
  5. Radio- AM/FM battery
  6. Get food; bread for sandwiches, crackers, cans of tuna,
    A. I make sure to have extra food in refrigerator that can be eaten cold also (hard boiled eggs, cold tater tots, pizza, etc.)
  7. Manual can opener
  8. Clear any loose items around the house exterior; these items could potentially be debris flown around that can cause damage or injury.
    • Small potted plants
    • Hoses, decorative items
    • Lawn furniture put in garage
    • Rugs

Additional Preparations

  • Use water bottles or pitchers or other containers to fill with water and have several extra, for drinking.
  • Get sand bags: I used grocery plastic bags to put sand in, and placed sand bags at the front door and back patio doorways.
  • Get a cooler or make extra ice packs using zip locks; fill with ice. Keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible. (This will maintain its chill for up to several hours).
  • Put hurricane shutters on windows; this is not an easy task, so make sure you have all map-instructions, screws, and that each shutter matches its screw hole positions on window. *Or you can have automatic hurricane shutters installed professionally at a cost if you so desire.
  • Park cars in garage

When Hurricane Arrives

  1. Close all interior doors.
  2. Be ready to go to the most interior room in the home; stay away from windows etc.

And wouldn’t you know it; these storms always seem to arrive during the night.

Also note: our home was built with cinder blocks and to hurricane codes.

Summary

Don’t panic when unexpected things occur that you didn’t plan for suddenly pop into your life. Life is full of unexpected turns, challenges and heartache as well as wonderful good things are always happening too. That is life. Take a deep breath, plan to the best of your ability, stay calm and everything will be okay. I feel very lucky and fortunate, and still can’t believe how I survived 4 hurricanes in 5 years!

Thank you for reading! I hope this will provide some guidance and ideas on how to deal with this type of natural event without being to inconvenienced or chaotic. Because the last thing we all need is more drama in our lives! Stay safe and be well.

Hawaii is more than just beaches, palm trees, and amazing sunsets. You will also find an abundance of adventure! Koko Crater Head Trail, AKA Koko Head Stairs is an impressive hike that can be seen as you drive on Kalanianaole Hwy:  The spectacular views will not be the only thing that gets your heart racing as you are hiking Koko Head stairs in Hawaii.

The Wander Club https://thewanderclub.co/?aff=201
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View at the top of Koko Head, Hawaii

Koko Head Stairs

This climb of approximately 1,050 stairs (or railroad ties) is a challenge for any exercise enthusiast. Hiking Koko Head stairs will leave you breathless, in more ways than one. With its 1200 feet gain in elevation and majestic views of Hanauma Bay and more, it will definitely offer a heart workout like no other.

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Koko Head Stairs Hike

Koko Head is the eastern side of  Maunalua Bay and the southeastern side of the Island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi. On its western slope is the community of Portlock, a part of Hawaiʻi Kai.

You will enjoy wonderful views of Hanauma Bay and beyond.  The climb can be grueling and scenic, so its a good idea to take a rest and enjoy the views.

There is a section where a large drop to a ridge is located below. Be careful and take your time and go slow if needed.  You may be huffing and puffing half way up the climb, only to learn you have quite a ways to go. But take one step at a time and you will get there.

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Koko Head Stairs

History

The trail is made up of approximately 1000 old railroad ties that are at the west sides of the crater. The top of Koko Head crater was used as a lookout by the military during World War II. The railroad ties (stairs) is where the tram ran on going to transport needed supplies to those at the summit in the lookout.

Tips For Hiking Koko Head Stairs

When you reach the summit you will be blown away!  It seems to always be windy up there, so be prepared to hang on to your hat or water bottle and be safe. Listed below are a few things to remember if you are going to hike Koko Head Stairs.

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  • Wear sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Bring camera
  • Hike may take between 1-3 hours
  • Take one step at a time
  • High winds at the summit, be aware
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View up top Koko Head
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Koko Head views

Koko Head stairs is not your average hiking trail. It’s location is centrally located close to lots of other fun activities a short distance from downtown Honolulu.

You might include hiking Koko Head Stairs into your vacation itinerary when you break away from your snorkeling, surfing, lounging, shopping and dining. #Optoutside and conquer this heart pumping amazing hiking trail!

Koko Head is also a place where locals come to do their daily workouts. You might notice people moving quite fast up and down these stairs, so be cautious. These people do this everyday and know the climb, I usually try to move and stay out of their way when I see them coming.

Getting There

Map and Directions:
As you drive East on Kalanianaʻole Hwy, make a left on Lunalilo Home Road. This will be the last left turn in Hawaii Kai before the highway becomes two lanes. Go about 2 blocks. Make a right on Anapalau Street, park in the district park near the baseball fields. Here there is plenty of parking and this is where we usually park. Its a little further walking adding to your hike prior to reaching the trail head for Koko Head stairs.

Summary

If you are looking for a unique fun adventure and something different while you are visiting Hawaii, then I recommend hiking Koko Head Stairs! It will please your heart, your eyes, and your soul. Enjoy! Mahalo!

See more hiking trails and adventure here:

Devil's Bridge Sedona

Arizona offers a vast array of fun activities and adventure. It is a haven for hikers, bikers, and explorers alike. There are so many trails and areas to explore that I have many on my list of favorites. Sedona is absolutely gorgeous with its unique red rock formations and energy vortex, it is the perfect place to find hike. Hiking Devil’s Bridge Sedona is amazing and it didn’t disappoint for our first time visit.

Stunning Landscape

Dust infused red-orange sunsets, smoldering red rock canyons, and blue skies with puffy white clouds describe my first time road trip to Sedona, Arizona.

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Views while Hiking Devil’s Bridge Sedona

Just hearing the words “smoldering red rock canyons” peaks my curiosity. We had an extra day open on the upcoming weekend, and decided to go on a road trip to Arizona. Being spontaneous makes life more interesting and this particular adventure is no different.

Seeking Adventure

After my previous heart pumping, 109 degree hot day hike up Camelback Mountain, I was a little hesitant to trek out to the desert for another scorching hike. Seeking adventure leads us to discovering Devil’s Bridge appearing in the search engine. The name sounds more frightening then it really is. The hike offers a shorter or longer hiking route to get to the Bridge. (Depending on which parking lot you park in).

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The Road Trip

During the early morning, we continue with our usual rituals as well as  prepping the car, gather food, fill our backpacks, and hit the road. Of course, The day prior, we did a vehicle maintenance check, changed oil, filled the gas tank, put a gallon of water in the car, and checked air pressure in the tires for safety and we were ready to go. See more info on How To Prepare For a Weekend Road Trip Here:

Sunset in Arizona
Sunset in Arizona

Welcome To Arizona

It was a picture perfect desert evening as we roll into town. Just in time to relish the golden sunset that says “welcome to Arizona.” Finally making it to our hotel, we settle into our room and then lights out for an early morning rise.  After enjoying a yummy breakfast, we prepare to head out the door and make our way towards Sedona. We made sure we brought enough water, power bars, lunch and ready to tackle Devil’s Bridge.

Getting There

It is a little tricky to find when first arriving in Sedona, but finally came upon it and parked the car. Take a look at the hand drawn map below that worked great to guide us to the trailhead and parking areas. DIRECTIONS 

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As I mentioned previously, the Mescal parking lot is a little tricky to find if its your first time. Many folks parked along the side of the road too. Side note: It was a little surprising to see the heavy traffic on the interstate on that Summer Saturday morning.

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There is an additional parking area that requires having an all terrain vehicle to park in this lot, which is located a bit closer to the trailhead for Devil’s Bridge. The road that leads to this parking area is very rugged, steep, and contains many holes and there is loose sand everywhere. So we did find a spot and parked at the Mescal parking lot.

The Trail

The Bridge hiking trail is rated as easy to moderate scale. After reading about others hiking Devil’s Bridge Sedona, we just knew we had to see it for ourselves. So, with a little last minute decision making, we committed ourselves to this weekend getaway to the desert.

We chose to take the longer path since we enjoy hiking tremendously. This made our hiking experience a little more fulfilling and to see more of the landscape. The hike starting at the Mescal parking area is a little more than 4 miles give or take round trip, so not too bad. It is rated as easy to moderate hike.

This longer route also is one that is a little more scenic as well and is great for spectacular panoramic landscape photos.

Know Before You Go

Prior to reaching the trailhead parking areas, of course I am in need of a restroom and water. The Sedona Library is located just outside of trailhead parking areas on the two-lane road heading towards Devil’s Bridge hike. This is a perfect stopping point. It is a very quaint library tucked away on a quiet street. A model train expo was happening during out visit. We peeked in the door and model trains are everywhere stretching out on several tables. What a sight!

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Sedona, Arizona library

I did not see restrooms or portable potties at or nearby the trail, so make sure you are prepared for these couple of hours out here. The trail consists of mostly simple, groomed and clear paths. Together with quiet, peaceful, and comfortable summer temperatures, it was a perfect setting for hiking. As you walk on the path, you will notice stunning landscape views and red rock formations surround you!

As you get close to the bridge area, there are a couple steep incline switchback areas. The boulders and rocks may be hot, so be cautious as you find your grip to help keep your balance to climb up.

Then at the top you can wander, relax, eat lunch and carefully walk towards the bridge. This will be the place to take the money shot of the bridge or of you on the bridge.

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Most hikers take turns on the bridge, so everyone can have their own photo opportunity of standing on Devil’s Bridge. The day we hiked this trail, there were a handful of people, and the wait to walk on the bridge was very short. Everyone was courteous and took their turn on the bridge.

Hiking Devil's Bridge Sedona
Hiking Devil’s Bridge Sedona

Adventure In All Of Us

Outdoor lovers just can’t help it. Adventure is a trait that many of us have. When we are curious about something new, we long the desire to go out and experience it. Hiking Devil’s Bridge Sedona is nothing short of spectacular. It satisfies both curiosity and adventure. And not to mention stunning views to indulge in.

Step Outside Your Boundaries

Life is too short to miss out on an experience because you may be a little hesitant or because of things in the past. Don’t be afraid to try new things and see something new! We are so glad we did! We highly recommend this hiking trail!

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Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, AZ

Thank you for reading!   

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The excitement for an upcoming trip can be exhilarating. But it can also be very stressful as you have a million things to remember to do days or weeks leading up to your trip. I, however, have a few extra things I need to do to prepare for road trips due to my auto-immune disorder. Which is why I put together a few great ideas how to prepare for a weekend road trip to help.

Anyway, when we have a road trip coming up, there are several things I do to plan and prepare for an enjoyable worry free travel experience. When I say ‘Weekend Road Trip‘ I am generally referring to a trip consisting of approximately 250-300 miles. We usually travel on road trips to Arizona, Palm Springs, or Nevada from the Southern California area.

My road trips usually involve a hiking adventure, so this information is geared towards hiking or exploration. One of the most critical things to do to prepare for your road trip is to make sure your vehicle is safe and in good operating condition. Here is a list of things I do for the preparation of our weekend road trip; I start with a vehicle inspection.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Auto Checklist

  1. Open the hood and glance over the engine and check fluids.
    1. Make sure oil is at good levels
    2. Make sure windshield wiper fluid is at appropriate levels
  2. Bring jumper cables in the trunk
  3. Bring a gallon of water
    1. In case your car overheats while driving. You don’t want to be on the road someplace in the middle of nowhere and your car breaks down and overheats, and you do not have water.

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Photo by Slobodan Jošić on Pexels.com
  • Make sure the oil and oil filter have been changed
  • Bring a blanket
  • Bring towels
  • Bring a roll of toilet paper
  • Bring a handful of tools
  • Bring the air compressor. Make sure all tires have the appropriate air in them.
    1. Make sure the spare tire is appropriated inflated as well.
  • Full tank of gas
  • When traveling in hot climates: turn off air condition as you incline mountains etc.
  • Maps if needed (we do not use GPS); good ole fashion paper maps.
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  • Here is more information about the auto checklist for a road trip. You can also learn more about roadside assistance here.

    Food Checklist

    1. Ice chest – ice – zip lock bags of ice to fit in cooler
      1. I found a styrofoam cooler at Walmart for $2.67 and worked great.
    2. Bring lunch meat turkey breast
    3. Mustard
    4. Enough almond milk for the weekend
    5. Bottles of water
    6. Healthy snacks; nuts, cut veggies, tortilla chips
    7. Energy bars- protein bars
    8. Breakfast cereal- cheerios, oatmeal
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    Hiking Checklist – local hikes or short hiking

    1. Bring enough water bottles to fill take for the hike
    2. Energy bars and nuts
    3. Appropriate clothing for hiking – hot or cold climates
    4. Small compass, small mirror
    5. A hiking partner
    6. Let someone know where you are hiking, if hiking solo
    7. Small tool-Swiss army knife
    8. Backpack
    9. Research local hiking trails, gather info, trail length, difficulty, etc.
    10. Proper shoes and clothing

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    Clothing and Personal Checklist

    1. Check the weather to determine to bring lighter or warmer clothes
    2. Jacket or not
    3. Umbrella in the car
    4. Essentials- Lotion (for dry climates), chapstick,
    5. Sunscreen
    6. Hats or visors

    In Summary

    Road trips can be a little stressful because of the preparation involved and other unplanned items that may come up. But of course, they are ever so exciting as well! Road trips allow you to be more flexible on your trip versus flying. For example, you can take a different route returning home than the route you took going to your destination. You can take detours and stumble upon some amazing hidden gems!

    Weekend road trips are like a mini vacation that allows you to getaway for a short while to rejuvenate, refresh, and renew! So maximize your life and fill your weekend road trip with excitement, fun, and exploration! Open your mind and go out and wander!

    My recent Coastal road trip on PCH

    Detours and hidden gems on my road trips

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    Be Inspired! Take a look at FitlifeandTravel Instagram:

    Summer is one of my favorite times of year, so I wanted to compile a recap of some of the most spectacular #sunsets in places I have had the privilege of visiting. In the last 10 months, I have had the opportunity to go exploring and travel a little more than previous years. We seen places that we’ve only talked about and had a desire to visit, and now finally we have made our dream come true. Although there are many places we have yet to see, these sunsets have made for lasting memories and remarkable experiences we won’t soon forget!

    Take a look at these stunning places and sunsets!

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    Arizona near Phoenix
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    Grand Canyon area
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    Santa Monica, CA
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    Cannon Beach, OR
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    Eugene, OR
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    Bradenton, FL
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    Honolulu, HI
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    Bismarck-Mandan, ND
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    Honolulu, HI
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    Scottsdale, AZ
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    Sarasota, FL
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    Moab, UT
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    Honolulu, HI
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    Austin, TX
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    San Diego, CA
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    Hawaii
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    San Diego, CA
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    Kauai, Hawaii
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    Honolulu, HI
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    Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

    Some of the most memorable moments are captured during sunsets, make sure you don’t miss out on your next moment! Hope these inspire you to go out and explore and venture for that perfect view and/or #sunset!

    Read more about my scenic adventures here!

    See more gorgeous views in Hawaii here!

    Please feel free to comment or contact me, I would love to hear from you! Please follow my blog and subscribe! As always, I thank you for reading and thank you for your support!

    Weekends are very special to people, it is considered very valuable time for some. It’s also great for going outdoors and exploring the local area hiking trails, especially in San Diego. I love hiking new trails and also learning about the area. Which is why I am hiking 2 for 1 Archeological Trails|Santa Fe Valley and Del Dios Gorge.

    Santa Fe Valley Hiking Trail
    Santa Fe Valley Hiking Trail

    How To Get There

    If you have the desire to make the most of your weekends, these two trails are very easy. They also have connections to prehistoric times. The Santa Fe Valley Hike and the Del Dios Gorge trail heads are located directly next to each other. There is a rock gravel parking area that you can park at no charge, then go and explore one trail and continue on and hike the other; exploring both trails all in one visit.

    Directions: I-15 to exit Via Rancho Parkway, Go West 3.5 miles, go left on Del Dios Road 5.4 miles, and turn left when you see a organic fruit stand building and veer to the right and continue driving down the road that will lead to the gravel parking area for the trails.   DIRECTIONS

    Santa Fe Valley Trail

    This trail offers a few few interesting features one being that near the beginning of the trail you will walk on the trail along a chain linked fence. You are essentially walking along the golf course and will possibly find a few balls on the way.

    Which feels somewhat odd, but then later you encounter views and switchbacks.

    Switchbacks at Santa Fe Valley

    The Santa Fe Valley trail is not only great for hikers but you can also bring your bikes on the trail. There is even a bicycle repair station to use if you need a tools to do a small repair or simply need to add air in your tires on your bike.

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    Bike Repair Station

    Also, one of the pleasant viewpoints of this hike are of the spectacular Crosby Golf Course.

    Crosby Golf Course

    The History

    My visit to these trails did not only present striking natural landscapes for viewing pleasure, but also historical significance. The flood of 1927 apparently exposed countless artifacts of the areas early inhabitants.

    2 for 1 Archeological Trails|Santa Fe Valley and Del Dios

    The Harris Site is noted as one of the most significant archaeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Del Dios Gorge Trail

    Three pre-historic cultural periods describe this region and it portrays a peek into how Native Americans explored throughout this valley.

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    Del Dios Gorge Hiking Trail

    The Santa Fe Valley and Del Dios Gorge hiking trails are both segments of the Coast to Crest Trail, which expands 55 miles from the ocean to the Pacific Crest.

    Rattlesnake Viewpoint

    Another point of interest is the Rattlesnake Viewpoint area. You can learn about this particular tool used in the past, while enjoying views of Lake Hodges just over the dam. I admit, I was confused at first, until I took time to read the historical information on the displays. This area is perfect for resting and learning about these 2 for 1 archeological trails.

    Here, in the center of the viewpoint sculpture which is the apex of the snake’s tail, there is a pipe scope of which you can look through and line up with another feature. These items are marked on the scope as A, B or C; as these point out the spillway, the bulwarks of the dam, and the river below.

    I highly recommend these hiking trails, they are a perfect way to spend a weekend outdoors and learn a little about history. And its a bonus when you can learn about your own local area and the peoples who were there before you. So, when you are looking for something interesting to do and spend time outside, you should visit these 2 for 1 archeological trails!

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    Thank you for reading, to see more hiking adventures, check these other 4 great local San Diego Hikes here:

    Siesta Key Beach FL fitlifeandtravel.com

    Florida has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches! As much as I love the mountains and trails, I also love to kick back on the beach. The beach, however, is not only for relaxing, it is also a great place to have fun! There are several activities that accompany the typical day at the beach. Some of these activities can be done anytime of the year in a place like Florida. You may want to add these gorgeous gulf coast Florida three Best Beaches to your list.

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    Summer is the time of year I think mostly about going to the beach. For many, Summer is the season of making memories of fun times with family, enjoying picnics, barbecue and watermelon! But remember in Florida, you can go and enjoy a day at the beach just about any day, anytime of the year. Now that you can pretty much visit the beach anytime, let’s take a look at all the fun activities you can do as well.

    Fun Things To Do At The Beach

    Photo credit: diyprojects.com

    Remember we are discussing the activities besides relaxing that you can do on the beach. Check out these activities:

    • 1. Walking or running
    • 2. Play volleyball
    • 3. Play frisbee
    • 4. Build sand castles
    • 5. Swim
    • 6. Jetski
    • 7. Windsurf
    • 8. Beach yoga
    • And much more! Check out these fun do it yourself things to do at the beach here.
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    I’ve spent a lot of time at some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are even a few I’ve been to that are located in areas not open to the general public. These include my days in the military at Diego Garcia, or Bellows Beach in Hawaii. Some of the hottest beaches in the world one might say are located in the state of Florida.

    Photo credit: pixabay.com

    The Summer season climate in Florida can be quite hot, and uncomfortable at times. I don’t let that get in the way of making my plans of a beach day. I enjoy going to the beach any time of the year. As many folks take their Spring Break vacations, you might want to take a look at these three best beaches on the gulf coast!

    Best Beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast

    1.Siesta Key BeachDirections

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    Siesta Key Beach is located on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida. This is the beach of all beaches! It’s the beach you dream of with wide spaces of beautiful white sand of which the sand is cool to the touch. During the scorching days of Summer, the sand can be very hot to walk on. Not here, the sand at Siesta Key Beach is cool and very fine. Sand at this beach is comprised of Quartz and has a luxurious and cool feel to the feet!

    Siesta Key Drum Circle

    You will find a nice facility and large parking lot at this beach. There are clean restrooms, water fountain, and benches. And at times, you might even catch a live band playing and other events going on. Events such as seafood festivities, or the Siesta drum circle are a recurring thing.

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    The interesting Drum Circle gathering happens every Sunday evening around Sunset. This is the traditional Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle where people gather in a large circle and a few folks will be playing instruments and beach goers can hula hoop or dance.
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    Siesta Key is one beach you must visit on your next trip to Florida! The accolades for this beach are quite impressive.

    • whitest and finest sand in the world (The Great International Beach Challenge, 1987)
    • Best San Beach in America (The Travel Channel, 2004)
    • Best Beach in America (Dr. Beach, 2011, 2017)
    • 2015 awarded #1 U.S. Beach (Street sign posted on Siesta Key)
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    Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle Celebration
    2. Bradenton Beach: Directions

    2. Bradenton Beach Directions

    Bradenton Beach can be found located on Anna Marie Island in Bradenton, Florida. From I-75 go take the exit for SR 64 and go west and you will run directly into the parking area for this beautiful beach.

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    Bradenton Beach
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    Bradenton Beach

    No Fancy Beach

    From my experience visiting this beach, there is not alot of commercialism nearby here (which is one thing I love about this area). The one building located in this area contains a restaurant, restrooms and water fountains. The area is sort of old school, and reminds me of the days of simpler times and allows you to truly escape the crazy noisy things going on already in our busy lives. 

    Sand Art Event

    A large unpaved parking lot is easily accessible and parking is free. Remember that this beach does not have all the bells and whistles as other touristy beaches. Which is exactly how I like it! You will find additional shops, boutiques and restaurants available as you travel South. There are a handful of free parking areas as well. It was a treat to be at the beach and see the Sand Art displays on the day we visited here in the month of December.

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    Beach Sand Art Display Bradenton
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    Sand Art Display Bradenton Beach
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    Bradenton Beach, Florida
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    Sand Art FL
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    If you are looking for a quiet, easy accessible beach for relaxing and enjoyment, Bradenton Beach will not disappoint.

    3. Clearwater Beach: Directions

    This spectacular beach area is highly visited every year and offers a lot of beach fun and activity. Located in Clearwater, Florida, the beach is beautiful and lovely with its wide and sparking light colored sand and inviting blue waters. Here you can enjoy fun in the sun, build sand castles, and have a picnic on the beach. This area can be quite busy with tourists, and parking can be a challenge as well.

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    Clearwater Beach, FL
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    Clearwater Beach, FL

    As you glance all around you, take notice of a few hotels and resorts located directly on the beach in the distance. Several boutique shops and restaurants, souvenir and snack shops line the streets on the main drag. Other beach shops located in this area include jet ski rentals and boat tour shops as well. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a must see as it is the place that the popular movie, “Dolphin Tale,” is based on.

    Photo credit: Pixabay.com

    Clearwater Beach has been in the rankings of beaches in years past including one of the best beaches in the U.S. Make sure to include a day at this stunning beach on your next visit to the state of Florida!

    Conclusion

    Some of the hottest beaches can be found all around the world. These three beaches are special, and they can found in the state of Florida. Spending a day at the beach, in my opinion, is one of the most enjoyable activities to do! Playing in the water, relaxing on the sand, and having a picnic with your family. On your next visit to Florida, you might want to add these three beaches to your itinerary!

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    Road trips can be so exciting and unpredictable. They do require a lot of planning and coordinating depending on the hours you want to drive. This is our epic coastal road trip pt 2 and the goal is to take a break from driving, and enjoy the surroundings. Our adventurous journey continues, on this gorgeous sunny day in June. This part of the trip is perfect for hiking, exploring the Redwoods, and taking an amazing return detour.

    Redwood Trees

    Redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest tree species on earth! As I look up, I almost feel dizzy because I am in such awe and amazement standing among these magnificent giants. They were big, small, wide, corked, and even drive through trees. Gigantic trees are every you turn here in Redwoods territory.

    We continue the trip that began in a small town called Leggett, California, this is where the giant trees started. We continue making our way through Smithe Redwoods State Park, Humbolt Redwoods, and then onto the Avenue of the Giants.

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    Avenue of the Giants

    Humboldt Redwoods State Park is a peaceful less traveled path to take to explore the massive Redwoods. This particular area is the greatest accumulation of biomass, which is comprised of both living and dead organic material, ever recorded in a coast redwood forest in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Did you know that coast redwoods are taller than any other living thing! Here are a few interesting stops we made on this tour:

    Points of Interest

    • 1: F.K. Lane
    • 2: Bolling Grove where many of the redwoods take interesting shapes and sizes.
    • 3: Visitor Center
    • 4: Weott
    • 5: Mahan Plaque is where there have been reports of people seeing an elusive large creature across the road (Sasquatch, Big Foot).
    • 6: Dyerville
    • 7: Chandler Grove
    • 8: Drury/Chaney Grove where a nice 2.4 nature loop trail takes you through these massive species of trees.

    Northern California

    We continue our journey north passing through Eureka and arriving into our resting destination of Arcata, California. But before arriving in Arcata, we also stopped for a rest in this really cool town of Klamath, California. We drive into a visitor stop where we see a giant Paul Bunyan and Babe statue. A museum and small gift shop are located are located directly nearby. The museum only had a few visitors including us glancing at all the historical photos of characters from the old Wild West including the Indians and other explorers.Whereas the gift shop has several folks shopping for souvenirs.

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    Arcata

    We arrive early at our destination, yet late enough to check into our hotel. Most hotels have a 3:00 P.M. check in so this worked well as we dropped off our food and personal items, then headed back out to explore more. We returned to a scenic spot we passed by earlier to re-capture a few more photos of these extraordinary vistas and views.

    After capturing a few stunning coastal beach photos, we end up back at our hotel in Arcata. I love it when good things happen by accident. Like stumbling upon a quaint Mexican restaurant while driving through town, turns out the best. We are usually very hesitant to try new places, but I had a good feeling about this restaurant. We stop by the location and walk in to take a look. The building and property look clean, plenty of booths and tables, so we thought we’d give it a try.

    Eureka

    If you are someone who has food allergies or food sensitivities, they will do whatever you ask them to suit your needs. When I placed my order, they mentioned that most of their sauces contain milk, except for one kind. So, this sauce, of course, is the kind I chose for my Enchilada sauce. The food and sauces are made of quality ingredients. Hence, our meal did not disappoint, and was very delicious! If you are traveling through this area, you may want to check out this restaurant.

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    After inhaling the scrumptious dinner at Tres Pecosos, we thought we would try to seek out another photo op before the sun goes down. A scenic area for a sunset at the beach and coast area would be perfect.

    Beach Sunset

    Only a few hours of sunlight remain at this point. We realize how tired we are to go mill around the beach until sunset. So, we capture a few stunning shots and made our way back to the hotel and hit the sack.

    Sunset at beach area, near Eureka

    Oregon, Here We Come

    After a long day of driving and a great night of sleep, the morning came full of sun and fresh breezes. We couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day to continue our epic road trip. The plan today has us rolling into the Redwoods and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and then into Oregon. The Redwoods cover a very large amount of land in Northern California. We also notice that the California Redwood parks are considered both a National Park and State Park areas.

    Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

    This particular area of Redwoods is named for an American explorer, Jedediah Strong Smith, who traveled across the lands of the Sierra Nevada to the Pacific coast in the early 1800s. There is also the Smith River that provides such elegant beauty and crystal clear waters.

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    Smith River

    Wanderlust Oregon

    We continue cruising through the massive Redwood National Park near the Klamath area, and can not believe our eyes. From the enormous trees to the amazing shoreline beach vistas, it was a nature photographers dream.

    I have only heard wonderful things about Oregon over the years. From the carved coastline to its amazing nature. I think this is what excites us the most about seeing Oregon; its incredible beauty and wildlife.

    We finally crossed the California border and into the beautiful state of Oregon. Oregon has so many points of interest along the coast! These are some of those points of interest we made sure to stop and explore as they are described here:

    Natural Bridge Cove: Trail

    Arch Rock

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    Port Orford Heads State Park

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    Coos Bay

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    Heceta Head Lighthouse (Viewing area)

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    Cape Falcon

    Tillamook

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    A quaint little farming town with an air museum with a large blimp hangar, cheese factories, and agriculture fields.

    Cannon Beach

    This little beach town is spectacular! The day we arrived, the streets and sidewalks look quite busy. I guess it would be a little busy since July 4th is just around the corner. Several folks crossing the roads, on sidewalks, restaurant parking lots were full. It seems this little beach town jewel had it all going on!

    Photo by Sam J.

    The beach is wide and offers quite a scenic treasure accompanied by the large rock formations. The world’s third largest monolith Haystack Rock standing 235 feet high, home for birding beauty is home here. This coastal area has been the center for filming scenes for several movies and films. Examples include The Goonies, Point Break, Free Willy, Overboard, Twilight and many more.

    While departing Cannon Beach area we felt a little sad. This small town made us fall in love with it. But we knew we had to continue our epic coastal road trip journey on towards Portland, which was our resting point for the night. Our path takes us north on highway 101 to connect to highway 26 which took us all the way into Portland. This route is amazing and it was quite a scenic roadway.

    Portland to Seattle

    The next day could not have been more beautiful! After a delicious breakfast in Portland, we hit the road towards Seattle. We arrived in Seattle which is just a few or more hours drive from Portland and head towards downtown to find parking. We pre-purchased baseball tickets to see the Seattle Mariners play on July 4th and it was a blast! The stadium was full of cheer, music, excitement, and patriotism!

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    Seattle

    Safeco Stadium (now it is named T-Mobile Park) 4th of July Fly over from McChord Field: C-17 Flyover: WOW!

    This Seattle morning is unbelievable! Full sunshine, blue sky, gorgeous temperatures, and not the Washington temperatures and clouds I remember; in a good way as I lived on Whidbey Island, WA 20 years ago.

    Return Trip

    We walked around the city for a while, then filled the car up with gas and started our return trip. San Francisco was our final stop, return the rental car, and catch a flight home. But of course, before that flight departure, we took in another baseball game and saw the San Francisco Giants play ball! That was certainly a thrill to see! I don’t know how people watch the game when they have such a gorgeous view looking right back at them in the stadium!

    The Detour

    Our epic coastal road trip return takes us through Oregon as a result of a detour path because of fires on I-5 near and around the borders of Oregon and California. Our detour included taking us onto Highway 99 South through several beautiful open landscapes, Mt. Shasta, Diamond Peak Mt., and other gorgeous vistas for our viewing pleasure and an overnight resting stop in Eugene. To cap off the evening, we enjoyed a stunning sunset!

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    Side Note

    Side Note: There are a couple things we noticed during our epic coastal road trip travels along northern California, Oregon, and Washington. There are several homeless folks wandering the streets, parking lots, roadways and highways. Many of these people live in their vehicles and I think they were at every rest area we stopped at. A few rest stops in those areas post warning signs stating that only a minimum numbers of hours is allowed to park or vehicle will be towed. Free coffee is also offered at the rest areas in Oregon and Washington. The number of rest stops in California seems to be limited and the ones they do have, are closed. This is something to keep in mind as you travel on a road trip through California.

    This epic coastal road trip was truly a remarkable experience for us! I remember always hearing about Highway 1 and the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway); the scenic views, landscapes, and beautiful beach towns along the way. And I have only seen photos of places like Pebble Beach (or watching golf tournaments on TV), but for many years it was just a dream or a thought. It is remarkable that I have lived in the West between California and Washington for more than 20 years and have never driven this route. Well, now it’s not just a dream anymore, it became a reality for this wandering adventurer!

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    Read my Coastal Road Trip Expedition Part 1: Pebble Beach, Redwoods, & Street Art

    Sources:

    Avenue of the Giants brochure
    California State Map
    Oregon state printed informational material

    It’s an adventurers’ dream to make the road trip of 2700 miles, visiting 3 states, and sleeping in 7 different cities. I call it my epic coastal road trip along PCH.

    Fitlifeandtravel.com
    California Coast

    Not to mention capturing over 1000 images of stunning landscapes, blue crystal waters, and impressive giant trees and nature trails. Our epic coastal road trip along PCH is definitely an experience I recommend. The PCH or Pacific Coast Highway; also Highway 1 is the path along the pacific ocean coastline consisting of some of the worlds’ most beautiful scenery.

    The scenery along this epic coastal road trip along PCH is magical, so as you can imagine, my excitement was off the charts. We began our journey through southern to central California. Which is sometimes typical of southern California weather, the marine layer can come in along the coast and usually burn off by noon. We proceeded onward with our trip heading north.

    But before I continue to share more of our epic coastal road trip along PCH, I want to explain a brief overview of the planning and preparation we put into this trip.

    PLANNING: Epic Coastal Road Trip Along PCH

    Our goals and dilemmas consisted of the following:

    1. Quality of sleep and rest in a comfortable, safe, and clean hotel.
    2. Allowing for about 6-8 hours of driving a day only, making sure to get enough rest.
    3. Not paying too much for lodging.
    4. Food and meals: I have food sensitivities so I am limited to which restaurants and types of food I eat. (Gluten, wheat, dairy, peanut/legume)
    5. The quantity of food for all breakfasts and lunches. (Great for budget travel)
    6. Return flight – limiting the number of bags and other things. (since I had to bring all this food)
    7. The type of cooler to bring:  disposable one. (Since we had a return flight).
    • The meals planned for each day were as follows:
    • Breakfast: Cheerios and granola topped with Almond Milk of which I brought.
    • Lunch: Deli lean turkey meat (I brought this also)-using Gluten Free bread for me; and a peanut butter sandwich for my husband. And tortilla chips.
    • Dinner: Denny’s or Mexican Restaurants
    • Snacks: Fresh carrot, celery, cucumber slices. Almonds and Cashews. Tortilla chips, fruit

    The planning of this trip or any long trip is not the easiest thing to do.

    Lodging

    My husband is a premier member to the Choice Hotel chains, so one of our stays was free and we gained more points again for the entire week to receive another free room or two for another stay. We found that the most comfortable hotel offering more value among the choice hotel chains is Comfort Inn. My husband made reservations in 7 different cities using Google maps as a guide to the location of that hotel to see what restaurants are nearby, and safe areas.

    Car Rental

    We also rented an economical car instead of driving our own vehicle. This decision ended up more affordable, cost savings, and more comfortable (than my car). Our plan was to drive back from Seattle to San Francisco and drop off the rental car and fly home from there. For some reason the Portland airport didn’t allow Dollar Car Rental return, and it was quite expensive to fly out of Seattle to return to San Diego, so San Francisco was where we drove back to and reserved a flight for $72 one way ticket for each.

    Food

    Meals: Now this was a little tricky. Considering we had a car, we’re thinking we could bring everything that we needed for a road trip, but with a dilemma of an airline flight return home. So, I thought about the foods and snacks we eat and gathered enough for each day of the week using zip lock baggies, the amount of bread for sandwiches for each day’s lunch, and breakfast meals for me since I have food sensitivities. We would seek out certain restaurants for our dinners, and those include places such as Denny’s and Mexican Restaurants of which I can usually find healthy, gluten free options from those places.

    JOURNEY BEGINS:

    We finally hit the road around 8:45 a.m. after leaving our personal car at the car rental place nearby the airport and picked up the rental car. I noticed a few pieces of art in this car rental facility which I thought was very interesting. Look closely now, this art piece is comprised of several vehicle tail lights attached to the wall. Check out these photos:

    Here is another art piece that caught my eye nearby the airport and they were moving as the wind speed increased.

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    As I mentioned earlier, the day was a bit overcast with some clouds and haze but at least the traffic was minimal driving through the LA area. It was quite a scene driving through Santa Monica, Malibu, and Santa Barbara as we proceeded making our way towards Monterey and the Pebble Beach area.

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    Beautiful landscapes, meadows and valleys.

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    Pebble Beach

    We finally made it to our goal for this day, the majestic place of Pebble Beach. My husband has already experienced Pebble Beach and played here at Pebble Beach Golf Links many years ago. The golf fees he paid back then was $250 for the round of golf and waited 8 hours to tee off. Oh how things change over time, a round of golf today at this course is a whopping $525.

    The club house is beautiful as we browse around inside for a short while. My husband also notices all the new boutiques and shops added to the grounds here as well. Sadly, it seems as though this incredible place has been bitten by the commercialization bug.

    The Lone Cypress

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    17 Mile Drive

    Prior to wondering around the clubhouse and shops at that Pebble Beach golf course, we cruise on our way through the infamous 17-Mile Drive that includes a $10 park entry fee. This is one of the most famous scenic drives in the world. Some of the spectacular points of interest include the following:

    • Shepherds Knoll
    • Huckleberry Hill
    • Poppy Hills Golf Course
    • China Rock
    • Bird Rock
    • Cypress Point
    • Lone Cypress. This is one of California’s most enduring landmarks and has withstood this rocky post for more than 250 years.

    Half Moon Bay

    After a long day of driving, we rested for the night in Marina, California. We then awoke early and hit the road onward towards San Francisco. As we continue out drive north, we made it to the cozy surfing town of Santa Cruz. There are several quaint coffee shops and surfing boutiques along the main roadway. But the ultimate place we want to see is Half Moon Bay and Mavericks.

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    Mavericks

    Mavericks is the place where surfers take on epic big wave challenges. Monster Mavericks big wave international surfing contests. Waves can at times reach up to 60 feet high! I see a beautiful lighthouse at this point and a group of surfers out at sea. As I look further out at the water, I know one of those surfers may catch their giant dream wave.

    Not only do surfers face the challenge of rough and cold waters here, but the climate is quite cool. A staff member in the Visitor Center mentioned that much of the year is overcast in this area of California.

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    Santa Rosa

    After wandering around the surfers territory of Mavericks, we made it to San Francisco. Unfortunately, in crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, we missed a photo opportunity because of the fog and visibility. We continued our journey northward.

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    Santa Rosa is quite a charming town and a perfect resting stop. We walked around for a bit and came upon a small street fair with live music and vendors. I notice a couple pieces of adorable street art. These art pieces are a couple of my favorite cartoon characters in the Charlie Brown series.

    The weather in this part of California is spectacular this time year. Feeling the refreshing breeze and the warm sun makes it really tough to beat the California climate. This journey is to be continued.

    The Ultimate Coastal Road Trip Itinerary Part 2 : Redwoods Ave of the Giants